In the 1970s and early 1890s, there was an outstanding British player with a great name who was truly a character. Buster Mottram was once ranked as high as number fourteen in the world and reached the round of sixteen at Wimbledon in 1982. He also had a stellar Davis Cup singles record of 27-8 and doubles record of 4-2.
Mottram was the son of a world class player of the 1950s, Tony Mottram. He was a controversial figure who was supportive of Britain’s political National Front before he joined Britain’s Conservative Party. He was a staunch supporter of Enoch Powell, a Conservative Party Member of Parliament in Britain from the 1950s to the 1970s, who was removed from the Shadow Cabinet in England due to his opposition to immigration to Britain. Mottram once said of Enoch, “I hope Enoch Powell will never die, just as his namesake in the Bible never died.” I don’t know much what that much means, but it is an interesting quote.
His association with the National Front’s party led to protesters picketing Wimbledon in 1978 and disturbing his matches. Several unsuccessful attempts to achieve selection as an official British Tory party candidate followed. He also was a journalist and wrote in the 1998 Spectator Magazine:
“Feminity and Wimbledon were once like two peas in a pod, but this seems to have been lost forever if we are to judge by prevailing attitudes. The majority of today’s players revel in displaying an aggresive masculinity with all its associated features: shorts or skirts as distinct from dresses (you can count on one hand the number of players who don dresses,) short cropped hair, bad language and mannerisms traditionally linked with men. I suppose we should not be too surprised. It is a case of sport imitating society. If ladylike qualities don’t exist in policticians, film stars and the like, why should the position in tennis be any different.”
He went on to say, “Being a part of modern womens tennis is imcompatible with traditional feminine virtues and graces. Perhaps one can excuse the modern female tennis player for pursuing physical performance to gain advantage in the demanding world of professional tennis, where the difference between winning and losing at the top of the sport hinges on a knife edge. But what one can’t forgive or excuse is the attitude of mind associated with this new masculine professionalism.” Granted, this was Mottram speaking over ten years ago, and I wonder if his views have changed.
On the creative side, he had a songwriting partnership with the British black comedian Kenny Lynch. Mottram is undoubtedly one of tennis’s true characters, past and present. You got to love it.
Until next week, take care.